Accuracy in Media

A film described as “a no-holds-barred account of corrupt, drug-ridden and under-employed American soldiers” is scheduled to be released in the U.S. The Drudge Report says the film, Buffalo Soldiers, is being released by Miramax, part of the Disney Company, which is “set for maximum controversy.” A poster for the film shows an American soldier flashing a “V” for victory sign in front of an American flag with dollar signs instead of stars, under the slogan, “Steal All That You Can Steal.”

Drudge puts it this way: “As American men and women put their lives on the line in Iraq and other locations throughout the world, Disney and its subsidiary Miramax have set a July 25 opening for the story of enlisted men running a profitable drugs and stolen goods business out of an Army base.”

According to several accounts, Miramax acquired the rights to the film on September 10th, 2001 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Within 24 hours, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the studio determined that the climate for releasing the movie had changed. Miramax must have figured that, with the American people uniting behind a military response to the terrorists, it would not be advisable to release a film making fun of the troops preparing to put their lives on the line to protect America. But the war in Iraq came after the war against the terrorism in Afghanistan. American soldiers are facing 10 to 25 attacks a day in Iraq. This doesn’t look like a good time to release the film, either.

Nicholas Schager in Slant said it was delayed after 9/11 because “its unflattering portrayal of the American military might be deemed insensitive and unpatriotic,” and predicts it will be “unwanted” at this time as well. That certainly appears to be the case. A sympathetic British reviewer described the film this way: “Violence is endemic and drugs rule? When a tank goes berserk in the village, squashing fruit stalls and a VW Beetle, before causing a gas station to blow up, because everyone inside is wasted on smack, there isn’t so much as a reprimand. A couple of soldiers are killed in that incident, news of which is swept under the carpet with everything else.” The Miramax web site simply describes the film as a “darkly comic story of one soldier’s misadventures in the military.” It is rated “R” for violence, drug content, strong language and some sexuality.

Director Gregor Jordan, who is from Australia, says the film is supposed to be funny. But the British reviewer says “Jordan is not taking a satirical swipe at the U.S. military. He’s serious.” The film is based on a book by the same name by Robert O’Connor, who teaches at an American university. The German producer, Rainer Grupe, obtained the rights to the book back in 1996, and claims that it is a “realistic” picture of the American military presence in Germany.

An review of the book says the main characters are “drug burn-outs” and “uniformed sociopaths.” Nevertheless, it was named a Notable Book of 1993 by the New York Times. The Times may like the film, too, but we doubt that many Americans will.

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